iOS App Postmortems – Random Dice Roller

Random Dice Roller, April’s 2nd app – or May’s first app, depending on how you look at it – is now out the door. As always, it’s time for another postmortem.

Development Time:

  • ~16h

Review Time (time spent in the iOS app submission queue):

  • 9 days

New technologies I learned and used:

  • The main new technology here was networking. This was my first iOS app that touched the network in any way, shape, or form. Aside from the incredibly annoying extra-long default timeouts, it went quite smoothly, and resulted in my open-source class ReallyRandom.

Challenges:

  • I ran into some performance issues when using setMasksToBounds: to round the corners of UIButtons. This will likely be the subject of a blog post in the near future.
  • Taking good pictures of dice is hard!

Future plans: I have quite a few plans for Random Dice Roller. So many, in fact, that it was a difficult decision to actually release it, instead of spending more time adding new features. But in the spirit of release early, release often, I decided to let it go sooner rather than later.

There are two things that will likely be coming at some point in the future. The first one is the ability to roll multiple sets of dice at once; that is, instead of just being able to roll something like 3d6, you could roll 3d6 + 2d8 + 1d4 all at once. This would be quite handy for those games of D&D.

The second one is in-app purchases of different dice sets. I’m not sure what exactly the market would be for that, but I figure it’s worth a shot.

As always, please let me know if you have any feature requests or ideas!

iOS App Postmortems – Feeling Blue?

Well, it took a little longer than expected, but March April’s app – Feeling Blue?– is now available on the App Store, and that means it’s time for a postmortem!

Development Time:

  • ~10h or so, over a period of about 5 weeks (this included some vacation time and a few other things, hence the delay).

Review Time (time spent in the iOS app submission queue):

  • 7 days

New technologies I learned and used:

  • I think the only new things I used were UIView animations and transparencies

Challenges:

  • The primary challenge this time was figuring out which pictures from my gigantic photo collection to use!
  • Figuring out how to get UIViews to fade in properly was a pain
  • As always, UI design is somewhat of a challenge.

Future plans: I doubt the app will get very many new features, as it already does everything it needs to, but I will likely add more pictures and quips to it.

As always, please let me know if you have any feature requests or ideas!

iOS App Postmortems: PhoToDo

February’s app – PhoToDo – is now available on the App Store, and just like last month, here is the postmortem for it.

Development Time:

  • ~23 Hours or so, over a period of about three weeks.

Review Time (time spent in the iOS app submission queue):

  • 8 days the first time. Rejected due to a crash when running on the iPad.
  • 5 days the second time.

New technologies I learned and used:

  • Sqlite3
  • UIActionSheets
  • UIPickerViews
  • UITabBars
  • UIImagePickerControllers

Challenges:

  • Designing the details screens to fit everything I wanted. I’m still not thrilled with the result, but it will have to do for now. This challenge will only get larger as I add more features to the application.
  • Overcoming some hurdles with UITableViews, and trying to figure out how to bend static cells to my will.
  • The App Store review process and waiting game. This will likely be the target of a blog post in the near future. On the bright side, I learned an important lesson – always test your app on the iPod simulator as well as the iPhone simulator!

Future plans: Version 1.1 is already in development. Here are some of the things I would like to see in 1.1 and beyond:

  • Support for reminder notifications for tasks with a due date
  • The ability to search your tasks & notes
  • The ability to add new tasks and notes directly from the task/note details screen
  • More photo editing/manipulation tools

As always, please let me know if you have any feature requests or ideas!

iOS App Postmortem: BBQ Menu

Now that January’s app – BBQ Menu – is available on the App Store, I thought I would do a quick postmortem for it. Postmortems will likely become a regular feature of this blog, and I suspect that they will normally be a little bigger than this one.

Development Time: ~15 Hours. This is a pretty rough estimate as I wasn’t keeping track of time. I have since started using Thyme to track my hours.

Review Time (time spent in the iOS app submission queue): 7 days

New technologies used: Everything! As this was my first app, everything was new, from UITableViews to Xcode to distribution and deployment.

Challenges: Aside from getting acclimated to an entirely new set of development tools, the hardest part was figuring out where to draw a line in terms of features. It’s a delicate balance between the desire for more features, and the desire for a simple, easy to use application.

Future plans: There are a number of bug fixes coming in the immediate future, and possibly some new features and a prettier UI shortly thereafter. If you have any feedback regarding BBQ Menu, please drop me a line!